The directors of Coláiste Cholmcille wish to express their deepest regret to the victims of the convicted sexual offender Micheal Ferry for the pain, suffering and distress experienced by them by his criminal actions.
Coláiste Cholmcille has been in existence since 1951 providing summer Gaeltacht courses. It has successfully done so for many hundreds of students since its inception.
As parents in our own right we the directors of Coláiste Cholmcille take the safety and welfare of children in our care with the utmost seriousness. All Gaeltacht colleges are regulated and inspected by the Department of Education Inspectors on a detailed basis annually during the operation of their courses.
In conducting its summer courses Coláiste Cholmcille utilised a vacant former secondary school building - Ard Scoil Mhuire for approximately three months of every year for its teaching purposes. Apart from this approximate three month period the building was otherwise vacant and unoccupied.
On foot of extensive media reporting in recent days, in the aftermath of the conviction and sentencing of Micheal Ferry for serious sexual offences Coláiste Chomcille wishes to state the following by way of information and clarification.
1 It has been repeatedly stated that Micheal Ferry continued in his role as caretaker to the building after his conviction for sexual assault in 2002. This is factually incorrect.
Following his arrest in 2001 and prior to his subsequent conviction he was dismissed from his post as caretaker. This dismissal took place at a formal meeting, attended by two directors of Coláiste Cholmcille.
He was required to surrender the keys to the building at the meeting which he did. He was never subsequently reemployed as caretaker to the building. Teaching staff at the college were informed of his dismissal and the reasons for same.
2 Over subsequent years, on occasion, whilst the building was vacant and not in use, Micheal Ferry, on an intermittent basis and always in the company of other building workers, participated in effecting necessary repairs.
During this period also, he assisted on occasions, in the presence of college staff with some aspects of our adult courses, during which time no junior courses ever operated.
He was never unaccompanied and he was never provided with keys to the building. With the benefit of hindsight, in the light of the information now available we regret having allowed this.
3 Routine intermittent security checks of the building during its long periods of unoccupancy did not reveal evidence of unauthorized use.
However, information emerging from the recent court case states that Micheal Ferry continued to access the building subsequent to his dismissal as caretaker in 2001.
As already stated this was an unused and unoccupied building for approximately nine months of every year. Apart from the above mentioned periods of authorized accompanied access, any other access of the building by Micheal Ferry was totally unauthorized.
Coláiste Cholmcille wishes to express its profound shock at these new revelations. We wish again to express our deepest regret to those who have suffered appalling wrongs.
Issued by Seosamh Ó Gallachóir on behalf of Coláiste Cholmcille.